Study Abroad – A Parent’s Perspective on travel & letting go
My oldest daughter just landed in Shanghai for her first Study Abroad program.
I am happy she is in China safely. I have been watching the clock and calculating the 12 hours ahead, following happily along with her initial itinerary. I imagine she is full of excitement and exhaustion from the long flight.
I have to admit: Sending her off for her study abroad was somewhat of a relief. The days and weeks of planning amidst all of our other life events made for a wee bit of stress.
Well, maybe MORE than a wee bit of stress…
It was at times fun to plan, pack, and fantasize about the sights and food in China. It was also fertile ground for power struggles, family sit-down chats, and self-check-ins about my OWN energy that was clouding the planning process.
I am feeling all-the-feels, as it is de-rigueur to say. I am happy. I am a wreck. I am filled with excitement, and riddled with anxiety-based-what-if travel scenarios.
This is not the first time that we have been apart for long periods of time. Both of our girls have gone away to camp for several weeks each summer. I loved the time to myself to breathe and rest, as much as I appreciated all the new and fun experiences that they were having.
Right now, summer camp feels like child’s play compared to the preparation and planning for a study abroad in a majorly far away country.
To backtrack for a moment…
Both of my children study Mandarin Chinese. I KNEW that when they picked this course of study (and yes, it was a decision that the girls discussed and debated with us at-length before making their choices), that a study abroad program in China would be in their future. I, myself have studied several Romance languages and I lived in both Mexico and Italy for long periods of time and LOVED it.
Immersion was THE THING that took my language skills from perfunctory classroom recitation to fluency. I was confident that my girls would undertake the same kind of program in their own lives.
The China trip was announced over two years ago, as her teacher and school knew that we needed time to plan, to fundraise (travel ain’t cheap!), and to get everything we needed together. My daughter began a plan to babysit several days a week during the summer, and socked money away week-after-week. She launched her own “Go Fund Me” campaign (with a little parental help) and asked for donations.
She raised the required $4,500 for her trip. We felt so proud of her efforts and the seed that was planted began to grow into full-blown excitement.
For ME, stress began to mount over what felt like a huge burden of “What-Ifs.”
It went a little something like this:
We live rurally. Will my daughter know how to get on and off a city bus? Will she know how to handle her money? Will she look both ways before crossing the street? Does she know how to carry her bag across her shoulder to keep it snug and safe from pickpockets? How will she cope with the huge crowds? Will she need to use her kickboxing skills in real-time? Will she put on enough sunscreen? We she dress modestly? Will she stay hydrated? Does she know how to treat herself if she gets diarrhea/nausea etc? And on, and on, and on….
Any scenario, I have imagined it.
I found myself feeling getting mired in a feeling of inadequacy that I had not better prepared her for EVERY LIFE SCENARIO that could possibly come her way. (Yes, I know how insane this sounds! Hooray for Mom Guilt!) ……Like there was some kind of international boot camp I should have put her through in order to be properly prepared for study abroad and also wilderness and city survival.
I was gently and lovingly reminded by my patient-as-a-saint-husband, that our lives together have been the training she needs. We have travelled A LOT with our children and they have paid attention. We have included them in the preparations. We talk to our kids about safety. We model and LIVE the kinds of relationships we want them to have.
My daughter is smart-as-a-whip, compassionate, and highly organized.
I needed to SEE and ACKNOWLEDGE that about her.
My husband also reminded me that travel IS also the bootcamp. That these experiences are how she will learn to trust herself.
He also reminded me that the gift of OUR TRUST would help set her on that path of self-awareness and connectedness that comes from travel.
Ahhhh………That was it: TRUST.
I found myself reaching out to friends who have studied abroad, and who have experienced similar emotions with their own families.
My friend Marina shared with me: “I always felt that they [my parents] had the trust in my abilities to figure it [Travel Abroad] out, they are very proud and supportive of me and honestly, it made our relationship so strong and special. I absolutely love my parents. Now, as a mom myself I understand how hard it must’ve been for them to let me fly into the unknown and let go of control. It is the ultimate parental sacrifice to let go of your child.”
She articulated about TRUST so well.
My friend Jude stated in regards to her son’s travel abroad: “I love watching it. It is filled with the beauty of being young so far away from what you know, and the joy of being together in the experience of what you don’t. What a time this will be for your baby who has grown like a glorious flower opening to welcome the warmth of the sun.”
I am grateful for have they have shared.
So… have you been through something similar in letting your child study abroad? Did you, yourself travel far from home and feel a range of emotions? I would love hear from you.
Want to stay in touch? Like us on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our email list to follow along for the latest updates and social media storytelling classes. My goal? To help you feel confident, competent, and creative online.
How to share your tourism destination on Social Media.
What is the best way to share your business on social media? I don’t know about you, but when I lay in bed at night, scrolling through my iPad, searching for the next latest-and-greatest place I want to visit, I tend to stop and linger at pretty pictures and videos or real people doing fun and engaging things.
I am not alone in this.
Over 45% of the world’s total population are on social media, spending on average, 2.5 hours per day on social networks and in messaging apps.* (Hootsuite, 2019)
Social media users love travel photos and destinations profiles.
Travelers want what is REAL and RELEVANT. They want to be shown what it would truly be like to travel to a destination, and what to expect along the way. Travelers want to connect with the EMOTION of the experience, long before they step foot in the hotel lobby, or get in their car to the airport.
How can YOU, dear gentle business owner, benefit from this knowledge and cater your social media marketing to potential tourism and hospitality customers?
It’s as simple as 1-2-3 to market your Tourism and Hospitality Business on Social Media.
I promise you, your marketing outreach will be SO much easier if you do a bit of planning ahead. You KNOW that the “spray and pray” method of throwing up a social post here and there does not work. It is ineffective and causes social media burnout. It makes you question, “Why am I doing this at all?”
A little creative brainstorm and a quick run-down list can make all the difference in your staying power on social media.
Jot down the answers to the following questions: (Sample Business Draft for the purpose of demonstration: Fairwinds Coastal Resort in New England)
What do we share for sales and specials for our Tourism and Hospitality Business? Pre-Memorial Day 40% for stays more than 2 nights; 25% off stays in June or July of 7+ continuous days.
What can we post seasonally? Staff profiles; Photos of rooms types; Wedding events; On-site and off-site catering
What special events, including charity events do we do? Our Local Brews & BBQ Weekend; Our Kids Fairy Festival in May; Our Lobster Roll Festival in August
What are some behind-the-scenes parts of our business we can share? Set up for a wedding; Opening of the pool; Videos of the chef prepping in the kitchen.
Then, fill in your month of social media posts ideas:
Week 1: Share photos of the past Local Brews & BBQ Events with a link to ticket sales; Share a series of photos from a couple who were married on the property with a link to the sales team phone number.
Week 2: Share our seasonal sales specials with a direct link to our booking page; share photos to the property to get people exciting about the upcoming season.
Week 3: Share photos and brief bios of the staff. Share photos of the newly refurbished rooms with link to booking page.
Week 4: Post photos of the Fairy Festival with links to the gift shop and our collection of fairy house books; Share photos of our chef making lobster rolls and ask guest to share their photos of when they ate lobster rolls on property.
One of my favorite quotes: “Chance favors the the prepared mind.” The same goes for YOU and your social media planning. The better the outline and plan, the better your chance of reaching your marketing your goals.
Credit -Louis Pasteur
2. SHARE USER GENERATED CONTENT
Guess what? You don’t have to do all the work. That’s right, you heard me!
You can look up what people have posted about their stay, and then SHARE that on your social media. In fact, this is a GREAT way to fill up your social media posts as both a regular part of your weekly plan AND when you are feeling that low-motivating-oh-dear-I-feel-so-uncreative-kinds-mood.
Here’s what you need to know:
YOU MUST get permission. YOU MUST credit the photo and/or source link that you repost. As a business owner, you need to follow the ethical guidelines set forth by all-that-is-respectful in the world.
It’s easy and it looks like this:
Sample outreach to client —-
“We loved what you posted on Facebook. We are so happy you enjoyed your stay. We would like to share it with our users and credit you and your account. Would you be be comfortable if we shared it on our Facebook page? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.” And then post away dear friends!
3. Be of SERVICE
Let’s face it: The WHOLE point of social media is to be of service.
Before the sales, before the song-and-dance, we are here to be of SERVICE and to help our clients.
Ask yourself this question: Is what I am posting online helpful? Does it help my clients see the full range of services that we offer? Does it help them make a decision about booking with us?
To put it another way, are you walking into the room and using a bullhorn to brag about your business and then walking away? Or are you purposefully asking questions, introducing yourself, and listening to what is going on? If its the latter of the two, then you are being of service.
Everything you post for your business on social media should be planned and purposeful, providing both future clients and return guests a chance to share and shine.
Have any questions or need further help? Like us on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our email list to follow along for the latest updates and classes. Our goal? To help you feel confident, competent, and creative online.
I have a great solution for you when it comes to what to post on social media.
We ALL — and I MEAN WE ALL have times when the words don’t flow as easily from our fingertips as we had hoped; or we have impostor syndrome and we don’t think we are good writers; or we just don’t feel like posting..and blah blah blah.
I get it.
I fall back on this simple formula of 5 Tips for Amazing Social Posts ALL-THE-TIME. It helps me to stay focused and get creative even when I feel as juicy and exciting as a piece of cardboard.
These steps help me to stay-on-task as a business owner who uses social media as one of my primary marketing tools. It is crucial that my posts be purposeful and a means-to-an-end, whether it be feel-good branding or targeted sales. (The “Spray-and-pray-haphazard-method of social media posting is a sure-fire way to burn out and lose, rather than engage, an audience.
I remember the mantra: “All you need is already within you. You are creative and powerful” and then I take these steps:
5 Tips for Amazing Social Media Posts
Start with a hook in the form of a question or quote.
Share your personal perspective and expertise.
Add great photos or video to bring your posts to life.
Include a link to your business/booking page.
Ask your followers to share & comment.
Formulas help me know that I am on-task and on-target in my business goals, and this outline does the trick.
I invite my community in by asking a question; I share myself, which is an important part of my connection to my customers; I show a photo or video because I know this is part of getting good visibility; I make sure to link back to my business; I invite them to share and be part of the conversation.
Have you ever driven a vintage truck? (Tip 1)
I drive an old Ford F150 all through college that I bought for $500 cash. I called it “Beatrice” because it meant “blessed.” That’s the way I felt in that old truck and I loved it. (Tip 2)
You can see all of the vintage truck we have on our lot here: ArundelFord.com (Tip 4)
Did you ever drive a vintage F150? Do you have a photo? We would love to have you share it in the feed below. (And let us know if you had a name for it!) (Tip 5)
And make sure to jump back to Tip 3 to share a photo with every post you do. It doubles your engagement!
Do you have a post formula you like to use? You can download my mantra and my 5 Tip Outline here for your desktop when you sign up for my mailing list. CLICK HERE. I don’t spam or sell your information ever.
Let me know your tips and tricks for great posts on the Facebook Page.
A special thanks to the team at Arundel Ford for letting me share one of their posts. They are incredible clients I Iove helping them tell their stories on social media.
Lumbar Punctures, ER Visits, & a Sense of Humor with Chronic Illness
I layed on the gurney, looking at the IV bag and the rapid drip of the caffeine and sodium benzoate into my arm. It was a busy Friday in the emergency room. I listened to the sounds of a man wretch repeatedly in the next bay. I watched the rush of staff move back and forth down the halls to attend to a steady stream of patients.
I was triaged from a hallway stretcher to a brightly lit private room – its equipment all tagged by someone supremely excited to exercise their skills with a label maker. I appreciated their fastidiousness. I studied the sizes of the intubation tubes as I laid back in the hopes of physical relief.
Prior to this ER visit, I had experienced several days of a crunching, body- seizing kind of pain that would not bend to ibuprofen and increased hydration. I had a lumbar puncture just days before; a next step in a long series of diagnostics on the road that is neuro-demyelinating disease. The procedure itself went smoothly. It was high-tech, pain-free, and without incident. I went home numbed up and relaxed, intent on “taking it easy” and resuming a slower, but engaged pace of day-to-day life.
Do you ever wonder what talk about on social media? Do you get excited to use social media for your marketing, but then lose steam after a few posts and then give up?
I hear you.
We have all been there. The stops. The starts. The lack of feeling creative. The need to take care of EVERYTHING else in your business and Social Media becomes ONE-MORE-THING you need to juggle.
Fret not, fellow business friend. I am here to help. I have a full-proof tip to share with you, so that you know what to post on social media.
Here it is: ASK A QUESTION OF YOUR AUDIENCE
Yes. THAT is what you should talk about on social media for your small business.
You should ASK A QUESTION of your community, the likes of which YOU are asked all of the time. As business owners, we solve problems everyday and answer questions.
Some juicy and/or mundane examples may be:
What kinds of service do you offer on old cars? Can you mail a package to Borneo? Do you offer small party catering? What time is your 3 o’clock seminar? Can you hem pants AND dry-clean clothes? Do you have evening hours? How much for drop-in child care? Do you allow dogs in your hotel?
You get the calls. You read your emails. You have the lady that wants to hang out, chit-chat, and then pepper you with questions about pairing wines and cooking for 20 people at the holidays. You know the drill and you answer these kinds of business questions EVERYDAY.
Guess what folks? These questions are AMAZING fodder for social media posts.
Click Through for a step-by-step video on “How to Ask Questions of your Audience on Social Media.”
Now that you know WHAT to do, it’s time to take action and get posting on social media.
Take a look at the steps below, and download a brainstorming guide to help get the juices flowing.
When you look at the most commonly asked questions, feel free to provide an answer directly in the post, or leave it open ended for your community to respond. Here is an example: “Have you ever come to on of our yoga classes? We would love to hear feedback from you!” or “We are asked if we fix older models of cars in our shop all the time. Here are some photos of the antique autos we have repaired. Have you seen them on the road? Share your antique auto photos below or call us for a repair at 555-1212.”
Make sure to ask in a way that encourages a response. Our social media business posts are seen on average by 2-5% of our TOTAL audience. Up-the-ante by creating a “Ask a Question” post and over time, you can improve your visibility ten-fold.
Use this as an opportunity to connect with your community. The more you respond, the stronger the connection between you and your clients. (AND, the more comments and feedback, the better your posts perform, and are shared with a wider audience.)
If you get a customer with a legitimate concern, offer to take the conversation offline and provide a direct phone # for them to call. If they get nasty, inappropriate and/or abusive, delete it and/or block them. We WILL get concerns and comments. There is NEVER a call for abuse or snarkiness.
So, when you wonder: “What do I post on social media for my small business?” you NOW know what to do.
Remember: My goal is to help you feel CONFIDENT, COMPETENT, & CREATIVE online.
A new way of loving myself deeply: My diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.
I went to the doctor yesterday and she told me: “Kristin: THIS is the hardest part – the part when you are waiting to begin treatment and it is all so new. You don’t need to be UP or ON or optimistic. It’s totally okay to NOT be okay right now.”
I broke down into tears and she handed me a wad of Kleenex from one of the six boxes in the examination room that upon closer look, seemed to be strategically placed near every piece of equipment. It was as if she knew that at any moment of the medical evaluation, whether on the table or at the scale, patient tears may flow, and she wanted to be at-the-ready to lend a tissue.
With her words “It’s totally okay Not to be okay” a weight was lifted and I opened up like a flood gate. It was like she had been reading my mind and saw straight through me.
I had been chatty at the start of the exam; funny even. I made jokes when she asked me: “How are you feeling today?” and I quipped with a talk show host accent, “Well other than the brain lesions, constant pain, and near paralyzing exhaustion, I am totally great!”
The truth was, I was NOT okay and the past three weeks since my MRI and first round of diagnostic appointments, I had tried to mask my fear with dignity and positive self-talk mantras. I told myself, “Multiple Sclerosis was not what it used to be,” and “I am going to be fine.” I tried to jump right into a fearless faith without acknowledging the worry and fear that bubbling just below the surface.
In truth, I didn’t feel fine.
I felt supremely scared of the unknown; of not knowing what to expect for treatment; of the unplanned-for expenses; for how much I would or wouldn’t be able to work; for who I would be if I weren’t always doing/being/trying so much.
Multiple Sclerosis: What does it mean?
What do I mean when I say that I have Multiple Sclerosis or MS?
In a nutshell, It is a chronic disease where the body attacks itself. The immune system attacks the nerves in the body and breaks down the fatty protective coating of the nerve cells called the Myelin sheath. Without the protective layer in place, nerves become damaged and the brain can’t send signals to the body the way that it should to help you move properly and to feel, both emotions and physical sensations. Scar tissue can show up in the brain and spine and begin to affect the activities of daily living.
There are four kinds of MS and everyone who has it experiences it differently. It tends to run heavily in white women who live in northern climates, (there is a connection with lack of Vitamin D and MS) although anyone can get get it. There is some link with MS to viral exposure that occurs in puberty, the effects of which can lay dormant for many years. It is chronic and incurable, however not untreatable.
The disease I was not expecting, but the change I truly needed.
No one ever expects Multiple Sclerosis. When my diagnosis came, it conjured up images of wheelchairs, paralysis, endless drip bags and infusion therapy, and loss of independence.
That is the way that it was in the not-so-distant past.
Current treatment is radically different from what it was even a decade ago. I have been assured by my doctors, and both my friends and family who know someone with MS, that “these people are the most kick-ass people that they know.” (I have heard this over and over again and I am optimistic about the carpe-diem, fact-facing hard-coreness that comes with chronic disease.)
My patient advocate even asked me: “Are you ready to stop tolerating any bullshit in your life?” Once I got over the Tony Robbins-esque tenor in her voice, I said a grunting “YES!” with the same kind of teeth-gritting tenacity and relief I felt after the labor and delivery of my 1st daughter.
Truthfully, I had not felt well for months.
I worried that I was in a cycle of depression and that my severe lack of motivation was a result of some cosmic judgment on my capabilities as a human. (Yes, quite dramatic – but I am never one to go at things quietly!) This kind of bad stretch had happened before and I had cycled through, feeling some relief and then onto progress, growth and elation in my life.
This past autumn, I felt like I had been running in mud – way more tired than the working-mom-tired I had normalized since I had kids, and scared of the weird changes in my vision, the lightheadedness, and the dizzying nausea. I had chalked it up to my busy travel schedule and promised myself that I would schedule myself differently in the new year.
I was beginning to turn on myself, telling myself crappy stories like: “You just need to work harder. You are not enough and will never be enough. You are never going to make it in this life.” While on the one hand I knew these thoughts were lies and just plain wrong, there was another part of me that believed it – the part that I had worked so hard to change and transform.
I had an old story that was trying with every thought to keep a grip on my life. It found fertile ground in my fatigue and illness. I told myself such shitty things and bullied myself. I thought I was cursed and that I somehow I deserved to suffer.
Then came the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis
Was it a weird sense of relief? Yes. It totally was.
The first thing I actually said to my husband was: “This is a gift” and I meant and felt that wholeheartedly.
It was almost instantly that I reframed everything that I was saying to myself about my symptoms. I realized that many of the cycles I had experienced in the past were probably part of the disease course. It was an opportunity for me to observe that self-doubt and blame in a new light. I laughed about it. I cried, and then laughed and cried some more. I realized that I didn’t need be so hard on myself and that “bad thoughts” were just thoughts, and feeling fatigued was just feeling – and not some greater judgment on my abilities as a human. I needed to be okay with it ALL – and let all the feelings flow through.
Now, as I step into therapy, I realize that the most significant treatment will come in the way that I treat myself. The biggest opportunity is to be present, to observe, and to be fully loving toward myself in everything that comes my way.
My friends have asked me: “What can we do for you to help you?”
My reply? “Tell me stories of people who have succeeded and overcome, and let’s kick some ass in everything that we do.”
More to come as treatment continues and I continue on my path of radical self-love.
Get Organized and Ready for 2019: Social Media Consulting & Instruction.
Are you in need of a social media boost for 2019?
Do you want to get in-depth, personalized training on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter, or Pinterest for your business?
Do you need step-by-step instructions and a clear path ahead on how to BEST use social media for your business?
Then this is the package for you!
At Kristin F. Simmons, my goal is to help you feel competent, confident, and creative in your social media marketing.
It is my goal to help you get the most from your marketing outreach and maximize your engagement through connected, relevant, and engaging stories.
Social Media Marketing is cost effective – especially when you know how to use it and use it WELL!
The HOLIDAY Package includes:
A 2-hour, custom, one-on-one lesson on the social media platform of your choice.
A comprehensive review of ONE of your social media accounts and a personalized, detailed recommendations for improvement and how to best maintain and use your social media accounts. (Consistency is KEY to mastering social media for business!)
A Detailed 3-Month Editorial Calendar with daily, weekly and monthly post planning to help you reach your 2019 Business goals.
A 1-hour post training follow-up Skype call to review best practices and troubleshoot.
BONUS! Three custom designed photo & graphics posts to use on your social media platforms.
Regular price: $1,500 HOLIDAY SALE PRICE: $799
Only 5 packages are available until they are sold out for the season!
Terms: All sales final. Maine State Sales Tax included. Buyer must send phone and email address to Kristin F. Simmons at email@example.com to schedule trainings. Payment must be made via PayPal. All initial trainings must be complete by June 1, 2019.